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Q6 - communicating (speaking, writing and typing)

This advice applies to England

This question is on page 11 of the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 page 11

How to answer the question

This question is about whether you find it hard to make people understand you.
It's about physical difficulties, for example having a stutter, being profoundly deaf or having cerebral palsy.

It's not about the effects of a mental health issue such as anxiety.

"Can you communicate a simple message to other people such as the presence of something dangerous?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

For this question, don't just think about telling someone about something dangerous.

For example, could you order what you'd like in a cafe? This could be either by saying what you'd like or writing it down.

Don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no", for example if you can't convey a simple message because:

  • you'd need help from someone else, such as a sign language interpreter
  • you have difficulties speaking, you have limited speech, or you can't speak
  • your condition means that you have difficulties writing and typing, as well as speaking
  • you can't speak loudly enough or for long enough to get someone's attention
  • speaking, writing or typing causes you pain or leaves you out of breath

What to write in the box

It's important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.

Give as much information as you can about your difficulties communicating with people. For example, explain:

  • if people don't understand you - give examples if you can
  • how it makes you feel if when someone can't understand you
  • if you avoid communicating because it's hard, takes too long, or frustrates you
  • whether someone helps you to communicate, and how they help you
  • how often you have difficulties
  • whether you have good days and bad days, and what the differences are


Sheena says "I have a severe stutter that gets worse the more stressed I get. It's a vicious circle as I get stressed when I can't get my words out.

I can usually manage to speak to people I know well but even then I'll have to write things down sometimes so they understand. If I have to talk to strangers my stutter can be so bad that people can't understand me. Once I got so stressed about it that I had a panic attack."

How the DWP assess this question

The DWP look at a list of statements called 'descriptors'. They'll give you a number of points depending on which descriptor applies to you.

The DWP add together all the points you get from the whole form. This means you can qualify for ESA even if you don't get all the points for this question.

Descriptors for question 6


6 (a) Cannot convey a simple message, such as the presence of a hazard.

(b) Has significant difficulty conveying a simple message to strangers. 15

(c) Has some difficulty conveying a simple message to strangers.


(d) None of the above apply.


Next steps

Question 7: Communicating - hearing and reading

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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